Digging My Way Out of the Red

Posted by Expired Potato On May 24, 2017 0 comments

Planet Hollywood


Was up pretty late that night cause there was a super loose aggressive donk at my table and I just could not leave until he left. Sometimes I just have to sacrifice sleep if there's someone donating $1000 an hour to the table. Regardless of the results, the opportunity is there and being tired is not an excuse to turn it down. Unfortunately I couldn't even make top pair against him. Oh well. Woke up at 9:15 to play in the 10 am tournament. It's a weekly $150 tournament with a $10000 guaranteed prize pool that you can get in for free by playing 20 or more hours in a week at Planet Hollywood. So basically on top of the $6/hr in value you get for the free dinner you're getting $7.50/hr in value for getting into the tournament for free. I got a good chip lead early and then went card dead in the middle of the tournament. Being a turbo, the blinds went up so fast that it got to a point where it was all in or fold. Blinds are 4k/8k (no antes). I'm in the big blind with 22k behind. Player under the gun (the player left of the big blind who is first to act) goes all in blind for 6k. Tight player goes all in for maybe 45k. Folds around to me and I look down at Q8 offsuit. Kinda sucks but it's 22k to call a pot of 44k so I only need 33% equity. Heads up against just her it's close but multi-way even against a random hand I don't have it. If I fold though then I'm in the small blind with 18k behind. I'm not a tournament player so I'm not sure if I need to be gambling it up here to try to get a workable stack. Blinds are going up soon. I call and run into AA. Of course. Flop doesn't help and I'm drawing dead on the turn. Almost made the money there were like 75 entrants with 15 paid I placed 23rd. A little disappointing but at least it was the casino's money I was playing with.

A fellow grinder showed me a place called Ocean One that has $4.99 lunches. And they were legit restaurant quality lunches. They even had steak for that price. Awesome. It was nice hanging out with someone who's kind of doing the same thing as me. When I talk to non-poker friends about poker, it probably sounds like Russian to them. It's nice to be able to relate to someone poker wise. This guy road tripped all the way down from Michigan to play poker here. Seemed like a pretty chill dude. Too bad he's leaving this week. Will definitely be going to Ocean One again. My grocery bill might slowly inch toward zero seeing how there's cheap lunch available on The Strip and I might never pay for dinner again (or hardly ever).

Anyways played at Caesar's Palace for like ten hours after that. It's the building on the right. Building on the left is the Bellagio. I'll catch those famous fountains putting on a real show some other time. Probably at night when it looks nice.

Got a nice free dinner at a food court beside Caesar's. ($2/hr comps for playing). I love having free food right at the table. Get to eat food I didn't pay for and not miss the action.

There was a maniac at the table who rekt me. As soon as the seat to his left emptied I jumped on it immediately to get position on him. I had a $700 stack at that point and he was deep as well. It's basically a grinder's dream scenario. Unfortunately couldn't really get too many hands to play against him before he left. And he probably played 30 hands in a row without folding preflop, no exaggeration. This guy had no fold button. It was nuts. It was 1/2 but played like 2/5 or even 5/10 with him at the table. Kind of frustrating to watch him play every hand, bluff off hundreds at a time, then hit random two pairs with hands like 73 and not be able to get involved with him. I can't complain too much though. It could have been much worse. He could've gotten lucky and taken my $700.

Woke up the next day and felt like SHIT! I was gonna go lift but decided to just spend the day playing poker instead. Hangover maybe? Wtf? It was ONE drink! Felt way too shitty to go grocery shopping and cook an actual healthy meal. So I took some frozen chow mein, tossed that onto a frying pan, chopped up a red pepper and that was lunch. Headed right back to Caesar's Palace. On a Monday I need to be very careful where I play. It's arguably the least profitable night (some think Tuesdays are since people are still in weekend mode sometimes). The poker room at Caesar's is big and has many tables running even on a Monday so it's more likely to be soft. Also the rake is $4 instead of $5 with no $1 taken for some stupid bad beat jackpot that I'm more likely to die in a car accident tomorrow than hit. The night went so well I built a VIP tower out of my chips and I've finally dug myself out of the red. I have a win rate of $1.29/hr now instead of -$13/hr! Yay!


A New Home

I picked the wrong area of the city to live in. Although it's a beautiful townhouse complex in a relatively safe area, there isn't much to do around here other than a mall a mile to the south and a dive bar which was friendly and cheap but empty AF. The Strip is walkable from the gym at UNLV. I've been walking it cause taking an Uber or Lyft three or four times a day instead of two is just not long term sustainable. It's not SUPER far. This picture was taken just outside the gym and those buildings under the plane are basically it. Kind of sketchy though. A couple blocks off campus and it starts looking like this.

I also saw some dude kicking a beer bottle into the middle of an intersection. Friendly neighbourhood. So that's apparently what people on Reddit meant by "watch out for the shitty area just outside The Strip". I'm gonna plan my workouts so that I get to The Strip before it's dark. During that walk I found out that there's a TON of furnished and cheap apartments/extended stay places in that area. I can see why it's cheap. I just need a place to cook lunch and sleep so I'll take it in two weeks after my Airbnb stay is over. As long as I'm not walking home from The Strip with twenty Benjamins in my wallet at 3:30 am like a fucking idiot I'll be fine. I'd be able to walk to the gym and walk to The Strip during the day which will save a shit ton of money. Also, for a $100 deposit I think most casinos on The Strip have a safe you can use. With that in mind, there's no way in hell I'd keep more than a few hundred even in a locked room in a place like that.

It's hilarious how being used to the comfort and relative safety of modern society can make a man act like a little bitch. Back in the day merchants risked their lives repeatedly traveling from China to the Middle East on roads infested with bandits and I'm worried about a forty minute walk in a seedy part of the city. Better to be a safe though than risk losing several buy ins to a piece of shit mugger.

Salsa, Bachata and Maybe Some Swing?


Decided to give up some EV playing late Friday nights to become a regular at Firefly's Latin nights. Thing about being a poker player - the best nights to make money are usually nights where a lot of non-poker stuff is happening. I can either go out and have fun or play in some super +EV games where my win rate is double if not triple my win rate on a Monday afternoon. Can't have it both ways. I'll just show up to Firefly at midnight from now on so I can still get that evening action at the tables. It's a pretty dope place. Huge bar and a pretty decent sized patio where people dance. Those pixels in the bottom left above that car with the neon underglow <333 are people dancing. I met the team that teaches ballroom dancing at UNLV. Someone mentioned swing dancing. Maybe I'll check it out. There's also a salsa class on Wednesdays if I heard right. Checking that out for sure cause in terms of poker, Mondays through Wednesdays are definitely expendable.



The New Strategy

Poker has been been swingy as hell, but since getting here I've been experimenting with a new loose aggressive strategy so I'm not too surprised at the results. I still play relatively tight in early position, although I do add a few suited aces and suited connectors. In middle position I have all suited aces, many suited connectors and a bunch of offsuit broadway hands (hands ranging from JT to AK that can flop an ace high straight aka broadway) that play well heads up against a fish but can get me in trouble if it's a multi-way pot. In late position and especially on the button is where I really loosen up and go nuts! If there's several limpers to me in late position I need to be careful, but if there's just one or two and the big blind is bad, I'm raising a very wide range to try to get a heads up pot in position.

A heads up pot in position at 1/2 is great! I have positional and skill advantage as well as the betting lead by raising. Usually the flop is checked to the raiser so most of the time I'll be position and have the option of seeing the turn for free. Also I can control the pot size way better in position which is key. The downside to playing loose is that I will have to bluff more and also have to pot control more marginal hands like middle or bottom pair because a loose range flops top pair or better way less often than a tight range.

The upside to having a loose aggressive image is that I can get paid with hands that tighter players can't get paid by. I don't need a super strong hand on the river to get called by worse. Sometimes a hand as weak as top pair can be good for a bet bet bet line versus the right opponents. Of course, the weaker hands that I bet for value, aka thin value, will be called by better a significant percentage of the time. But that's fine because the EV (expected value) of betting is still better than the EV of checking. This also has the added benefit of allowing me to have more bluffs in my river betting range. The variance of course will be huge compared to a tight aggressive strategy of bluffing sparingly and just betting strong value, but this is how the best players push that extra edge to get a better win rate. Which leads me to...

Weekly Hand Analysis

Two limpers to me in the cutoff (the seat directly to the right of the button) with A9o. With two limpers some could argue for folding but the button is tight, the limpers are bad and the blinds are bad so I raise to $15 with the goal of taking down the pot right there or playing a heads up pot in position with one of these bad players. For the record, I wrote this a few days ago and realize now that this kind of "lolol he's bad he's bad he's especially bad I can outplay them all" type of thinking preflop can get me in trouble. A9o is a mediocre hand even in late position and I should be tightening my raising range against multiple limpers and limping behind more or just folding hands like these. This was a hand that was played poorly preflop but after further review I think was played decently postflop. The big blind (BB) calls and the limpers get out of the way. Flop is T95 with a heart. BB leads $20 into me. I've noticed him lead the flop into the raiser with top pair before so this isn't great news. But given my aggressive image I would expect him to check and let me hang himself if he had a hand. I'm getting a great price since with his bet I'm risking $20 to win $51 minus rake. I call and take a turn.

Turn is the 9 of hearts. He bets $40 into $69. Now I have a key decision. Against strong players I will need to call some % of the time to protect my calling range so that he can't bluff aggressively on most rivers. Against a weak player it just doesn't matter. They aren't gonna be observant enough to notice that I never have a strong hand in those spots when I call the turn if I always raise my strong hands. I can always raise here with my strong hands, call with my bluff catchers/medium-strength hands and it just doesn't matter. With that in mind, I decide to raise to $105. He thinks about it for about thirty seconds and calls.

River is horrible. Jack of hearts. All backdoor flushes got there. 87s got there. KQ got there assuming he calls it on the turn (which would be a pretty bad call but it's 1/2 so you never know). Not too worried about J9s or JJ but those are certainly possible (although why would anyone bet out with middle pair on the flop). And of course I'm already beat by 55 and T9s (I HIGHLY doubt he leads top set on the flop). I don't even have a heart blocker (as in having a heart in my hand which makes it less likely for him to have a flush). On the bright side, 55 and T9s will shove the turn some percentage of the time so he doesn't have every combo of 55/T9s. Also a lot of hands that beat my trip nines will bet out on the river to deny me an option of a free showdown. This is a prime example of why being in position matters. Not only do I gain valuable information, I can decide between shoving for thin value (he has almost $200 behind), betting tiny like $80 into $279 or a free showdown. A marginal winner will snap check it back for a free showdown without even thinking about it, likely out of fear of losing that $200. I don't think betting tiny is really a good decision here cause it looks like I have a hand that can beat AT but can't beat a straight which allows him to turn a hand like AT into a bluff and potentially make me fold. So betting tiny is out of the question. I'm no solid player as of now, but let's think like a solid player would and work out whether this is a shove or a check back using Equilab.

I am for sure ahead of the range that called my turn raise and checked the river, but the range that will call if I shove is much stronger since he will fold many marginal hands like a ten and sometimes QJ. The hands in blue are an approximation of the range of hands I can expect him to be able to call a river shove after calling my turn raise. Hands in gray are hands that are impossible due to card removal (for example 99 is impossible because there's only one nine left in the deck). I gave him one combo of overpairs (QQ - AA), a few combos of AT, QJ and JTs with heart blockers. The rest are straights, flushes and full houses which of course beat me.

This is how A9 with no heart blocker does against that range.

The verdict? I'm actually slightly behind the range that calls and checking it back would be more +EV than shoving, because when he calls my shove I will lose more than half the time. If he calls more combos of QJ or AT, then it becomes an appropriate thin value shove, especially if I have the ace of hearts which removes flush combos from his range. However this is an approximation based on my assumptions which may or may not be correct. The more I improve, the more accurate my assumptions will be and the faster I will be able to work this out in my head at the tables. By the way this hand was played at Planet Hollywood which is on the right here. That's a "ph" that got cut off in the top right which I realized after heading back. :(

I thought it about it for a while and ended up checking it back. I said "river saved you man" as I flipped over my A9. He looks annoyed and angrily flips over QQ. I get that I had the "crazy mid 20s Asian" image at the time and he was trying to trap me by just calling preflop. But if the two limpers came along he would've been in a four way pot with QQ and out of position against three players with an overcard (ace or king) flopping over 40% of the time. I think reraising it preflop would've been a much better play for him.

Thoughts And Realizations After First 100 Hours

Been here nearly two weeks and I've just logged over 100 hours at the tables. I'm on pace for 200 hour months. Proud of my volume, not the most proud of the results so far. I've estimated that my win rate would be $15/hr. That would mean my EV is $1500 but my actual net winnings are...enough to cover groceries. A 100 hour sample size is tiny, but I KNOW I haven't played my best. There were definitely many spots where I took a bluff too far and lost more than I should. I would say I've lost at least $500 more than I should have by taking bluffs too far. I can recall a spot last night where I raised the river instead of folding to try to rep a flush and got snap called by two pair. Took an unnecessary $100 L right there. I would also say that I've lost almost the same making too loose of calls. If I hadn't made those mistakes, I'd be much closer to my estimated EV and would be more likely to actually be a $15/hr winner.

Asides from surface level studying such as posting hand histories on this blog and on two plus two, I haven't done much DETAILED studying. By that I mean running through spots using Equilab or CREV. I need to be studying general spots and not just specific ones. I'll only encounter specific spots every so often, but I'll encounter general spots all the time. Like being out of position on a dry flop (few or no draws, like A95) versus a wet flop (many draws, like JT8 two spades). As the preflop raiser, I need to know what my value bet range looks like, what my bluffing range looks like, what my check/call range looks like, and what my check/fold range looks like (I've neglected check/raising for a slight simplification). Then I'll need to know the same thing except this time I'm in position instead of out of position. Currently I have a rough idea of what those ranges are but that's not good enough.

Do I deserve to win? Can I be a crusher (top player) if just keep playing? The answer is NO! I realized that I've been going about it the wrong way. Just playing is not improving. With online poker I'm playing up to 1000 hands an hour which is over 120k hands a month if I'm doing it full time and not being lazy about volume! Can arguably learn by just playing and doing hand history reviews. But with live poker I'm only playing 30 hands an hour! THAT is specifically the reason why online players have a HUGE advantage over live players! I can play the same amount of poker as all the poker I've played here in two weeks in just three hours back home on PokerStars. If someone's at least middle aged I don't even consider them a threat because they've probably never been an online grinder. I've seriously haven't seen a single solid live player that's not in their 20s or 30s in 100 hours of playing here. The only older solid player I know of (and he's not even 40 so doesn't quite count) is the legendary x_ROSH125_x who grinded online for years and is a well known and well respected member of twoplustwo. Thankfully he isn't grinding in Vegas. ;) If a young player sits down and plays solid (which happens rarely), I'm watching them closely and seeing if I can learn from them. Where am I going with this? Playing live poker and just reviewing hands on a surface level doesn't cut it. That's the reason why many regulars who've been playing for years are still fish.

What have I done in terms of poker since getting here? I've put in the hours at the tables. But I haven't done detailed studying at home. I've been cocky and entitled which is not a recipe for success. I don't want to be another kid with a dream who thinks he's one of the best, goes home broke and blames it on bad luck instead of bad play. So instead of playing poker today, I'm gonna take a step back and think about how I can become a better poker player and what I've been doing that's not working. I've already identified two things - taking bluffs too far and not folding when I should be folding. Great! I know there's more. I'm far from being a solid poker player. But I know I have the potential. I will find out what my leaks are and what I can to plug them. I hope to see some improvements in my play the next 100 hours. If I can honestly tell myself that there are many improvements I'll be moving up stakes next month regardless of results (unless results are -$2000 but that shouldn't happen).


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